NEWS
03/01/2018 11:46 GMT | Updated 03/01/2018 12:26 GMT

Poundland’s NSFW Elf ‘Teabagging’ Advert Investigated By Advertising Watchdog

80 complaints and counting...

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into the Poundland elf campaign, which revealed the Christmas sprite indulging in a sex act with a female doll.

The advert, posted on 21 December, showed the elf hanging a teabag on Barbie’s face, a nod to the sexual act of “teabagging”. The caption read: “How do you take your tea, one lump or two?”

The ad drew ire from the British public, with some people even questioning whether Poundland’s social media account had been hacked. But the budget shop stuck to its guns and defended the advert, which cost £25.53 to produce, quipping: “You should see the ones we didn’t post.”

Poundland

On Wednesday the ASA said it had received 80 complaints about the Poundland tweets and that an investigation has been launched.

A spokesman told HuffPost UK: “The general nature of the complaints is that the ads (tweets) are offensive for their depiction of toy characters and other items which have been displayed in a sexualised manner, and are unsuitable to be displayed in an untargeted medium where children could see them.”

Nor was Twinings Tea, responsible for the teabag in question, amused.  In a tweet, the company said: “We are aware of an image that is circulating that misuses our product. This is to confirm that we had no involvement in this and that is obviously not reflective of our brand values.”

In response, Poundland deleted the original tweet and replaced it with an updated image without the brand’s involvement, asking its 117,000 followers to “spot the difference...” 

The company behind Elf On The Shelf, a popular Christmas story and game for kids, also distanced itself from the adverts.

“We are aware of several disturbing images circulating on social media that are causing confusion and using #elfontheshelf,” a spokesperson told HuffPost UK. 

“The Elf on the Shelf® wants to make sure families in the UK know that the elves depicted in these images are not Santa’s Official Scout Elves and could never work for Santa.

“The Elf on the Shelf is caring, kind and part of joyful family memories. To ensure your elf doesn’t behave badly, only adopt Scout Elves that have a solid red jumpsuit and arrive with their very own storybook.”

The elf ‘teabagging’ scene isn’t the only one to prove controversial. Other adverts from the campaign saw the elf rubbing its bottom with a toothbrush, playing poker naked and relaxing in a sink with two dolls.

The findings of the ASA investigation are likely to be known in the coming months.